A Storefront Makeover Contest for Devon Avenue businesses between California and Kedzie will pay $2,500 to the winning storeowner, with cash prizes of $1,500 and $1,000 to the second and third place winners, respectively, announced Michael Schubert, a former Chicago commissioner of housing.
Schubert, special consultant to a committee of the West Rogers Park Jewish Community Council focused on strengthening West Rogers Park as a desirable neighborhood, unveiled the contest at a networking event for Devon Avenue merchants held July 30 at newly remodeled Ted's Fresh Market, 2840 W. Devon.
"This is the first of many programs aimed at recreating Devon Avenue as an exciting international marketplace," said Shalom Klein, community organizer and business consultant and vice president of Moshe Klein and Associates.
The program, featuring a continental breakfast, attracted some 20 storeowners, business people, and community activists who share a common goal of upgrading Devon Avenue.
"Communities go through stages," said Schubert, who played a key role in the revitalization of Bucktown and Wicker Park. "First, cynicism that things won't get better. Then that gets chipped away and attitudes change as momentum builds."
Howard Rieger of West Rogers Park, past president and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America, the national umbrella organization of federated Jewish philanthropies, who volunteered to convene the community-revitalization committee with Rabbi Leonard Matanky of Cong. KINS, said, "The Jewish community has a huge stake in preserving West Rogers Park because this is the core Jewish neighborhood in Chicago, with an enormous investment in institutions that would be impossible to recreate."
The Storefront Makeover Contest is set to run Sept. 1 through Nov. 30.
Schubert explained that once entrants file an application, a "before" storefront photo will be taken. Rejuvenation projects - whether involving new signage, doors or windows, or improved window displays - can then begin. "It's pretty much anything that will make your store more welcoming to customers." After the work is completed, an "after" photo will be taken. A panel of design professionals will review submissions.
The first 25 entrants will receive a $25 gift certificate from Home Depot.
Among those who attended the reception hosted by George Ballis of Ted's Fresh Market were Esther Sabo, Tel Aviv Bakery; Richard Trumbo, Music House Academy of Music and Dance; Amer Chaudhry, Care & Care; Drs. Fatima and Anwar Mohiuddin, Universal Medical Center Rehab; Irv Loundy, Devon Bank; Rabbi Tzvi Bider, Chicago Center for Torah & Chesed, and Barbara Singal, principal of Business Operations Solution, and Amie Zander, president and executive director, respectively, of the West Ridge Chamber of Commerce.
"Devon is a diamond in the rough, and now's the time to make it shine," said Ald. Debra Silverstein (50th Ward). Silverstein assured storeowners that Devon Avenue streetscape improvements set to begin within the coming year will not upend parking on both sides of the street at the same time.
"Wider sidewalks will be great for sidewalk cafes," she said.
For further information about the Storefront Makeover Contest, contact Mike Schubert at email@example.com